Beach Bar Bonanza

Every summer I like to hit Japan’s beaches, regardless of my enormous pasty beer-belly, my tendency to get severely sun-burned, and the fact that the beaches are overcrowded and dirtier than Paris Hilton. This is for two reasons- the plethora of wooden “beach bars” that are erected along the seafront each summer, and the hordes of women in bikinis. Life is sweet, but am I turning into Benny Hill?

Shonan beach is nearest to my house. It’s a popular summer day-trip destination for residents of Tokyo and Yokohama, attracted by the surf, outdoor music events, parties and fireworks displays. It’s a long beach running along the coast of Kanagawa, consisting of lots of smaller beaches with different names.
Enoshima is the busiest of these, especially in August when an annual fireworks event attracts about 150000 people. Locals claim Enoshima is the “Miami beach of Japan”, and although it’s too small and grubby to live up to this tag, there is an appealingly hedonistic, spring-break vibe to the place. It’s a hot-spot for trendy youngsters who go there to hang out in the summer holidays. There’s a big surfer scene despite the minuscule waves, which mainly operates as an excuse for bronzed posers to mince about in expensive wet-suits.

This is also where the orange-faced Shibuya girls go to top-up their summer tans. The ordinary girls, meanwhile, sunbathe covered in factor 50 sunblock to avoid getting a tan (which sort of defeats the object, but who’s complaining. Thank God for the invention of mirrored sunglasses!)
Speaking of which, watch out for the pervy, paparazzi-style photographers who stalk the beach with enormous telescopic lenses, looking for exposed flesh. If the lithe bikini-clad young folk don’t make you feel self-conscious stripping down to your swimwear, then the sleazebags with cameras will!

In the evening you can watch the sunset while drinking in the wooden beach bars. There are dozens of these bars lined up next to each other so it’s ideal for a bar crawl, and the inebriated holiday-makers inside are usually in high spirits. These bars are, however a bit pricey so you could choose to follow the example of the local teenagers, grab some convenience-store beers and set off fireworks on the beach.

Other beaches in the area include the slightly less-crowded Kugenuma beach, which is the home of beach-volleyball in Japan, with an annual summer tournament. Chigasaki, meanwhile, is the birthplace of Japan’s answer to the Beach Boys, The Southern Allstars. Contrary to their paeans to the place, the beach is crowded and swamped in litter, but it holds some good live music events, and a traditional festival in which a portable shrine is carried into the ocean takes place at sunset on July 20th. Yuigahama beach is a bit less dirty and has it’s own fireworks spectacle in mid August. It also has trance and reggae parties, and last year Yuigahama was host to the MTV beach bar, with daily broadcasts on MTV. There’s also Zushi beach, which has a live-house called Otodama Sea Studio on the beach, where lots of semi-famous Japanese bands perform live in the afternoons.

Alas, on September 1st the fun ends in Shonan, the lifeguards look for new jobs, the beach bars are dismantled, and everyone stops going to the beach (even if it’s still hot.)

Directions: Enoshima beach is close to Katase-Enoshima station (on the Odakyu line, about an hour by express train from Shinjuku)
Kugenuma beach is near Kugenuma-kaigan station, also on the Odakyu line, a couple of stops before Katase-Enoshima.
Chigasaki beach is about a 15 minute walk from JR Chigasaki station, about 1 hour from Tokyo station on the Tokaido line.
Yuigahama beach is about a twenty minute walk from JR Kamakura station (an hour from Tokyo station on the Yokosuka line.) Zushi beach is near Zushi station, also on the Yokosuka line.

9 Responses to Beach Bar Bonanza

  1. Rua MacTírean says:

    I was thinking of going to Japan next summer actually, how much Japanese do you need to survive? Survive as in ‘not being grossly offensive to the local population’ that is

  2. roaf says:

    You can get by on very little. You should be fine if you bring a phrasebook.

  3. Joakim says:

    Thanks allot for sharing this interesting information. I’m going back to Tokyo from 17th of July to 15th of August so hopefully there will be nice weather for the beach 🙂

  4. roaf says:

    Yeah, that’s perfect timing!
    The beach itself isn’t so spectacular, but you can still have a lot of fun!

  5. […] “official” beach season. Like so much else in very orderly Japan, the Polynesian-style thatched hut beer joints and fish taco stands don’t begin to appear on the rather grubby sands until it is officially […]

  6. […] an hour south of Tokyo is the Shonan beach area (where I used to live, an hour on the Odakyu line from Shinjuku) where you can sit back and sup […]

  7. What a write!! Very informative and easy to understand. Looking for more such comments!! Do you have a twitter?
    I recommended it on digg. The only thing that it’s missing is a bit of new design. However thank you for this blog.

  8. culos says:

    That is really fascinating, You are a very professional
    blogger. I have joined your rss feed and stay up for in the hunt for more of your magnificent post.
    Additionally, I have shared your website in my social networks

Leave a Reply to Perceptive Travel Blog » Blog Archive » Hit the surf near Tokyo: Zushi Beach Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: